Meteorologists know Friday's tornado in the El Reno area was an EF5.
And based on records, they believe it is the widest recorded in the United States.
But there's something they don't want to think about.
“The impacts were horrible of what happened, where it hit and what happened to people and structures,” meteorologist Rick Smith said Tuesday. “We are certainly not minimizing that at all, not at all. But had it gone through the very densely populated areas, this would have been ... I don't even want to imagine what it would have been.”
In the rare category of EF5 tornadoes, the one on Friday in the El Reno area was “super rare,” Smith said.
The National Weather Service's Norman Forecast Office, where Smith works, had rated the storm as an EF3 based on structure damage. Meteorologists updated the estimate Tuesday, determining it was an EF5, the strongest classification for a tornado. It was 2.6 miles wide at its widest point and tracked across 16.2 miles. The storm had wind speeds greater than 295 mph. That 2.6-mile tornado path width is believed to be the widest on record in the United States, according to the Weather Service.
~ from El Reno Tornado Is 'Super Rare' National Record-Breaker by Bryan Painter and Silas Allen ~
One of the questions that we may be able to answer within the next two or three years is whether or not the El Reno, OK tornado turns out to be "super rare." While the Moore, OK tornado wasn't quite as fierce as the El Reno one, both were designated EF5s. That is two major twisters in less than 2 weeks in the same general vicinity.
Does this prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that climate change is real? Of course not. Our scientific knowledge is not advanced enough to pinpoint the precise causes of these violent storms. It could turn out to be nothing more than random chance. But, if other record-setting tornadoes hit this same area later this year or next, it certainly points TOWARD climate change as a likely explanation.
In fact, the growing intensity of a variety of climatic events -- extreme drought, continuous flooding, brutal blizzards and winter warm ups at unexpected times, ferocious hurricanes and record-setting tornadoes -- points toward something amiss in nature. Again, none of this absolutely guarantees that climate change is THE culprit, but over 90 percent of the world's scientists believe it is!
Maybe it's time that we start listening to them.